The stage has been set for a war of words between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder before in their second-round Western Conference playoffs series has begun.
Lakers forward Metta World Peace reportedly said Saturday night he would not shake the hand of James Harden, whom World Peace violently elbowed to earn a seven-game suspension last month. And he said Harden may have been flopping on the play.
"I don't shake substitutes' hands," World Peace told ESPN.com after the Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of their first-round series.
Despite averaging 16.8 points a game, Harden does not start. However, he was selected as the league's Sixth Man of the Year.
Harden was the recipient of World Peace's flailing elbow to his head April 22 that left him with lying on the court with a concussion. Game 1 on Monday in Oklahoma City will be their first meeting since the incident.
Earlier Saturday, World Peace accused Harden of over-reacting after he was elbowed in the head, but asked his fans not to back him for the hit.
"Even though he came and ran up behind me and he's done that before to Tyson Chandler and other players and he flopped even in the series (against Dallas) in the first round, but I don't want support for that," World Peace said.
World Peace apologized in a statement two days after the incident and he checked on Harden's health through contacts. However, the two have yet to speak and he won't shake his hand prior to tipoff.
World Peace said the Thunder players normally ignore greetings before the games.
"I shake everybody's hand before the game, but Oklahoma City, they don't shake hands," World Peace said. "Only some of them, but I don't think they really shake hands before the game. Kendrick Perkins and now (Russell) Westbrook don't shake hands either. (Russell) used to shake hands, but now he don't shake hands anymore."